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Title: Tough (4/7)
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: PG13
Summary: He'd made it his job to help Reid along. How had things gone so horribly wrong? Morgan perspective, Reidcentric.
Spoilers: Everything up to 'Ashes and Dust'.
Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds or any of the characters.

A/N: This is technically the fourth part of the 'Reid-on-drugs' miniseries, but it's not necessary for you to read 'Fall', 'Smile' or 'Fathers' before reading this.

"Hey - how's he doing?"

Morgan watched as the seated Gideon shook from his reverie, pulling his eyes away from the small form in the bed to glance up at his colleague in the doorway. Gideon's smile was small, and completely void of happiness.

"About the same," came the soft reply as Gideon turned his attention back to the sleeping man before him. Morgan's eyes were drawn as well as he took in the scrawny, pale form of Spencer Reid resting fitfully in the hospital bed. The young profiler looked only slightly more alive than he had when the ambulance had collected him from Quantico more than eight hours ago.

"You taking the next shift?" Gideon asked quietly, as if fearful of disturbing Reid from his fevered dreams.

"Yeah. You should go and get some sleep."

Gideon didn't move from his spot, his eyes never leaving Reid's face.

"Are the others back at work?"

Derek nodded, fully aware that Gideon couldn't see it.

"Hotch called - he and JJ have got things covered. He'll let us know if we get a case." Both profilers knew it was only a matter of time before work tore them from their colleague's bedside.

Jason Gideon stood reluctantly and stretched. Offering Reid one last glance, the older profiler made his way to the door.

"Let me know if he wakes up."

Morgan took the vacant seat, pulling it closer to Reid's bedside, and settled in for the long haul.

Dr. Henderson, the physician assigned to Reid, had originally forbidden visitors until the following day. However, after Morgan and Hotch spent the next hour repeatedly badgering the nurses for admittance into their colleague's room, the doctor relented on the condition that they not disturb Reid's rest or any more of the medical staff. Gideon had immediately taken the first watch, but the genius had yet to wake from his drug-induced sleep. Hotch had stood at the door of the room long enough to assure himself of the young profiler's stable presence in the bed, before returning to Quantico to start up the paperwork explaining Reid's absence.

Morgan had briefly contemplated going home to get some rest, but he didn't quite trust himself on the roads. Instead, he'd spent the last five hours in the hospital cafeteria, fielding calls from JJ and Garcia, both of whom were frantic with worry over their youngest profiler. After repeatedly assuring them both that it was unnecessary for them to come by, as Reid was still unconscious, he took to wandering the hospital wards, eventually finding himself in front of Reid's room once more.

The genius stirred in his sleep, his right arm shaking slightly. Morgan watched his movements carefully, trying to keep his mind off of the reason why his friend was here in the first place.

How much more could the team handle this year? Between Elle getting shot and quitting, Morgan being framed for murder, and Reid getting kidnapped, he couldn't believe none of them had snapped yet. Just when Morgan had thought things were getting back to normal, this had happened. Were they ever going to catch a break?

Or maybe it was just Reid. The younger profiler seemed to have a knack for ending up in dangerous situations. In the last two years alone, he'd been held hostage at gunpoint three times, attacked by a serial stalker, and nearly blown up. Not to mention the fact that, despite failing his gun qualification, he'd shot and killed two unsubs during that time. Maybe getting kidnapped was just the next logical step.

But using drugs wasn't like Reid at all. No matter what he'd gone through in that cabin, Morgan couldn't believe that Reid would willingly destroy his mind like that.

He'd been shocked, opening the door to the men's room to find Reid curled up on the floor, unconscious, pale and helpless. He'd rushed to his side, calling for an ambulance and frantically trying to wake his friend. At first, he'd been too busy focusing on Reid's shallow breathing and cold hands to even notice the nearly-empty vial lying just inches away. Gideon had arrived first and quickly began dialing 911 as Morgan pinched his friend's arm and called his name, trying to elicit a response. He focused entirely on the situation at hand, pushing down the anger that had begun to grow inside him. He didn't look at the discarded needle on the ground or the tourniquet still fastened tightly around Reid's skinny arm, knowing if he thought about it too much he'd probably hurt someone.

Derek always teased Reid for being a genius. It had been that way ever since they'd met. As much as Reid's informational tirades could grind on his nerves from time to time, he'd come to rely on his oversized brain - sort of like a walking encyclopedia. Spencer never did anything without a million thoughts rapidly weighing the pros and cons. So how could someone so smart be so incredibly stupid? They'd all known something was going on with the young profiler, but Morgan could never have believed it was drugs. Reid and drugs just didn't mix. But the image of Reid with a rubber tourniquet around his arm like a common junkie forced Morgan to face facts. The signs were all there - he knew they were - the personality changes; the trouble focusing; the warm sweaters and coats, even indoors. A million different clues laid out for their team of expert profilers to miss.

No. Not miss. Ignore.

That's what they'd been doing, really. None of them had wanted to see what was right in front of their eyes. They'd just kept on pretending that everything was fine until Reid forced them to see it.

How could something this big have gone under the radar? Even the in-house psychiatrist had cleared Reid for work after his medical leave. Hotch had insisted on it. Of course, Derek knew it wouldn't take much for any one of them to fool a psych evaluation.

Spencer had changed since his kidnapping, and understandably so. They'd all brushed it off as minor PTSD at first, each of them foolishly confident in the belief that Reid knew he could confide in them if things got bad. But as the months progressed, Reid's behaviour only got worse. All of them had struggled with a proper course of action, not wanting to push him any further away, but there'd been no success. Each of them had known it would only be a matter of time before Hotch was forced to take action as supervisor, for the good of the team. And, judging by what Morgan knew of Elle's departure, it probably wouldn't have ended well.

Hotch and Gideon had shared with him their theory that Tobias had supplied Reid with the drugs, though Hotch had warned against speculating too far before they had a chance to talk to Reid himself. But Morgan already knew that was what had happened. It fit the profile - Garcia had told him how Reid had called out to Tobias for help on the video screen. And from what he'd seen, Tobias had been the one to give Reid the lifesaving CPR. It made sense that Tobias' idea of helping Reid escape the pain would parallel his own method of escape. The only thing keeping Morgan from going crazy at the moment was the hope that Reid had fought against his captor’s twisted act of mercy. Even if he had, the genius had still taken the drugs.

"Hey, talk to me. Whatever you say to me in confidence is between us. You know that, right?"

"I don't have anything to tell you."

Morgan sighed, leaning forward to rest his head on his clasped hands. He'd thought he knew Reid well enough that the kid could come to him with stuff like this. He'd asked Spencer straight out on that flight back from Westchester County, but the genius had never hinted at anything close to drug use. Derek had tried to give him a second chance in New Orleans, knowing full well that there was another reason why Reid had missed the plane to Galveston. But once again he'd been given nothing. Reid had kept this from everyone, for whatever reason. Didn't he trust them yet? Maybe Morgan didn't know him as well as he'd thought.

"You had no right, man. I- I confided in you. You know, this is exactly what happens when I trust someone - it gets thrown back in my face."

The angry words Reid had flung at him during the Virginia case over a year ago echoed loudly in his head. Is that why he hadn't confided in him this time? Had he believed that Morgan would go to Hotch and Gideon about it like he had with the nightmares? Morgan didn't have to think about it to know that he would have told them without hesitation. No matter what promises he'd made about keeping things between the two of them, there was no way he could have kept quiet about something that was killing Reid. And this was killing him.

Spencer gave a small grunt, a frown forming on his face as he slept. Morgan shifted in his seat, noticing for the first time how frail his friend looked, dwarfed by the machinery that surrounded him. Had he always been this skinny? He could remember the first time he'd met Reid - almost five years ago - he'd looked like a strong wind would knock him over. He couldn't believe that this stick of a kid had ever made it through the strenuous months of FBI training, and had briefly entertained suspicions that exceptions had been made due to his incredible genius. There had certainly been enough departments bidding for his employment, but, of course, Gideon had steered him towards the BAU.

It had seemed like a good fit at the time - after all, their job wasn't physically strenuous, in theory, and didn't even call for the possession of a firearm. He himself could remember thinking that profiling was a cakewalk compared to his years on the bomb squad. But each of them had had more than their fair share of close calls, and as Derek added up the number of times Reid had come close to biting the bullet, he wondered if it hadn't been the wrong choice after all.

Reid was scrawny, awkward, passive - he was practically begging people to take advantage of him. And from the few details Reid had offered about his past, Derek surmised that many people had. He'd taken a liking to the kid those first few months, but the world was a harsh place - Morgan had known that since he was a kid. It wasn't safe. It wasn't kind. It wasn't fair. It was cruel, and hard, and it would chew you up and spit you out if you let it. The only way to survive it was to be tough and hold your loved ones close. And, despite everything, Reid wasn't like that at all. He'd always been naïve, putting himself in danger with the narrow-minded belief that nothing bad could ever happened to him. That kind of thinking could get you killed, especially in their line of work. There were days when Morgan wondered how the younger profiler had survived this long. He wasn't ready for the world, and it would destroy him.

So, somewhere along the way, Morgan had made it his personal mission to help Reid along. He'd never had a brother, growing up in a house full of girls, but he imagined that the urge to teach Reid about the world stemmed from a similar relationship. He'd made it his responsibility to toughen Reid up and teach him how to stand on his own two feet. He'd teased, and he'd prodded, and he'd called him names like 'brainiac' and 'youngster.' He'd ribbed him about his gun qualifications and his poor social skills, and his sad dating IQ, all the while silently urging the genius to stand up for himself, something akin to pride in his smile on the rare occasions when Reid had done just that.

Derek knew that he could overdo it sometimes, but for the most part, he'd believed he was helping. Reid had grown so much in the time he'd known him, now able to hold a relatively normal conversation with an attractive woman without spilling any kind of hot beverage on her, and ignore the occasional condescending whisper of fellow agents who decided he knew a little too much for his own good. But Morgan hadn't finished his work soon enough, and now he found himself wishing that Reid had never chosen the BAU. There was a hardness in the young profiler's eyes; a bitter, sarcastic tone to his previously innocent comments that Morgan had never intended. Reid had seen the evils of the world firsthand, and it had all but destroyed him. Derek couldn't help but blame himself - he hadn't done his job. He hadn't prepared Spencer for anything.

Seeing Reid tied to that chair, beaten and bloody, he'd wondered if he'd failed him completely. If all he'd managed to do was show Reid how inept he was instead of teaching him to grow. He'd been scared - scared that the big, bad world he'd been striving to prepare Reid for would soon swallow his friend whole. If he'd been truly honest with himself, he'd have realized that he'd had almost no expectations of finding Reid alive.

He'd watched as Spencer stared down the barrel of the revolver, every ounce of emotion drained from the young profiler's pale face, and a deep anger had ignited inside of him. He'd wanted nothing more than to jump through the screen and throttle the bastard who'd threatened his friend. Derek was slow to trust people, but once he'd let someone into his circle, he fought for them with everything he had. He wanted to protect the people he cared about, keep them close, and if Reid couldn't look after himself then it became Morgan's job. As long as Morgan was around, he'd be the only one who got to mess with Reid. No one else.

His first instinct had always been to start swinging.After playing the victim for years as a kid, he'd learned to make himself the aggressor whenever possible. But there was no one to hurt this time. There was no one to take the blame, no one to serve as the punching bag of his frustrations. Tobias Henkel was cold in the grave, and these days the only one hurting Reid was Reid. How was he supposed to handle something like that? How could he be expected to deal with a situation where no one and everyone was at fault?

The truth was, Henkel was still hurting Reid, in ways that they couldn't see. And it was taking every bit of Morgan's self-control to fight the urge to knock some sense into Reid because he didn't know for sure that it wouldn't break him. Maybe he was already broken. Maybe he'd been broken all along, and they just hadn't seen it. The thought that the overdose might have been intentional briefly entered his mind, but Derek pushed it away. He couldn't worry about that now, already straining to keep a leash on his emotions, but he didn't think he'd ever be able to forgive Reid if that was the case.

Come on, kid. You gotta wake up so we can deal with this.

Reid twitched in the bed, an extra blip on the machine calling attention to the movement as the young profiler let out a soft moan. Derek frowned, the near-silence of the hospital room suffocating him as he guarded the broken form of his friend. He clenched his hands in frustration.

He really hadn't toughened him up at all.


Keep Smiling! ;)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
Hi! Here from one of the CM communities - not sure which one, have a bunch open.

Wanted to let you know that this is awesome - I think you've got Morgan's voice DOWN. Read this one (because although it's not a pairing fic I'm a Morgan/Reid fan) and will definitely be reading your others! Very well written and insightful into the personality/mindset of the characters.

Have to run but have bookmarked and look forward to reading more from you!
Aug. 19th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you! I'm really glad you felt Morgan was in-character (next to Garcia, I find him the hardest to write for).

Thanks again for the comment!!

Keep Smiling! ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )